'This one should be fun' they said. It was.
An undulating track with a real mix of terrain. Trails in the woods, hills, grass fields, jumps, gravel stretches and undulating corners. This was going to be a fast one. Feeling not quite so aero as the last race due to a damaged skinsuit, and struggling to get over the dreaded man-flu I knew this one would be tough. The short sharp up hills zig zagging over one field didn't particularly suit me but I thought lets have fun with this.
This race had some of the big hitters arrive at the start, guys racing in the nationals lined up with the 80 plus riders in the senior race. The best thing about Cyclocross is that there is always some to chase, and always someone chasing you. It's an intimate race where you are battling yourself more than anything.
The forest section of each lap was fast narrow and winding, overtaking here was tough but do-able depending on how brave you really were. There was often some one on your wheels on the slippy trails here and you simply needed to keep the power down. This then opened up into the ups and downs through the fields, eventually leading to a sharp hill, some flat grassland and the jumps. My attitude to jumps are lets not make a fool of myself and crash. Some people think differently here. For me it's easier to dismount, run and remount. I can make the time back elsewhere.
The gravel sections, normally a point I can ride well, became a weakness early on. My back wheel was clipped and down I went, quickly followed by another racer who'd clipped the back wheel but continued to ride over me. Many a firm word was said, an apology, a dust off and the race carried on, even with blood streaming down the largely grazed buttock and leg.
But that's Cyclocross. It fucking hurts sometimes, things brake, we get filthy. But its still one of the best ways to race in cycling.
Photos by Ant Harris, Chris Lanaway and John Mullineaux
Strava file below: